PMI ready to help govt implement COVID-19 vaccine program

Jakarta The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) is ready to help the government implement the COVID-19 vaccination program in the community, secretary general of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), Sudirman Said, stated.

"We express our willingness because PMI has 409 units or headquarters throughout the province to assist with vaccinations," he said during a virtual discussion originating from Jakarta on Wednesday.

Some time ago, he said, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, had visited PMI headquarters to ask whether it was willing to help vaccinate citizens once the COVID-19 vaccine was ready to be officially given to the public.

Pandjaitan is also the deputy chair of the Committee for Handling COVID-19 and National Economic Recovery (KPC-PEN).

Regarding the distribution channel, he said that so far, the PMI has good relations with various transportation companies so that it will make things easier in the field.

This has been proven by PMI, especially when organizing various logistics for areas affected by natural disasters, including distribution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We will use the network we have, but it depends on the assignment of the government because its (the vaccine program’s) authority (rests) with the government, and PMI will only help the government," Said remarked.

Not only that, the organization, which is commanded by Jusuf Kalla, also has 224 blood donation units (UDD) spread across all regions that have technical personnel and experts who can carry out vaccinations, he added.

It is necessary to know, he continued, that logistics delivery will be a challenge considering Indonesia's vast territory and different geographical conditions.

Moreover, the vaccine would need to be always carried at a certain temperature, including the equipment, he said.

"This is indeed a challenge, but we must make it a lesson so that in the end we have new skills to handle it," he added.

The Indonesian government would carry out the COVID-19 vaccination program in two phases, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said earlier.

The first phase will last from January to April, 2021, and the second from April, 2021 to March, 2022, he said adding, health workers, public service workers, and the elderly will be prioritized in the first phase of the program.

"The first stage of vaccination for health workers in Indonesia is [going to cover] 1.3 million people. The second stage is given to about 17.4 million public officers, then 22.5 million elderly people over 60 years," Sadikin said.

The priority status for frontline health workers is in line with what is being done in other countries, he added.

Furthermore, in the second phase of the program, vaccinations will be provided to 63.9 million vulnerable people in areas with a high risk of transmission and 77.4 million persons from other communities, using a cluster approach, depending on the availability of vaccines, the minister informed.

Sadikin said the government consulted the Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ITAGI), an independent agency, while mapping out the vaccination plan. The agency was tasked with providing recommendations to the Ministry of Health.

Source: Antara News

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